Simple trick ‘could make teenagers shun junk food’, scientists claim

Rob Waugh
Could this persuade youngsters to cut out the burgers? (Getty)

A simple psychological trick could do the impossible and persuade young people to cut down on junk food, scientists have claimed.

Researchers at Chicago Booth University played on boys’ rebellious streaks – showing them articles suggesting that fast food companies tried to ‘hook consumers on addictive junk food for financial gain’.

The researchers found that teenager boys reduced their purchases of unhealthy food by 31% in three months after seeing such material.

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Study author Christopher Bryan, from the university, said: ‘Food marketing is deliberately designed to create positive emotional associations with junk food, to connect it with feelings of happiness and fun.

‘What we’ve done is turn that around on the food marketers by exposing this manipulation to teenagers, triggering their natural strong aversion to being controlled by adults.

‘If we could make more kids aware of that, it might make a real difference.’